Saturday, April 14, 2012

Third-graders and their questions about science

A few posts ago, I talked about the third-graders at a Long Island grammar school who had written letters to me asking me about my work and life as a scientist. I received sixteen hand-printed letters in the mail right before Easter vacation, and read through them all. Their teacher (my good friend) helped them formulate some of the questions. Many of them were insightful, many were cute, a few were out there, but all of them were indicative of a group of youngsters who are thinking about their daily life and surroundings. That is a good thing and should be encouraged at all costs, especially if we want the younger generation to choose science and math when they get to high school and college.

Here are some of their questions that I am busy answering these days:
1.       What do I know about cancer and are we coming close to a cure?
2.       How is my research on cancer going?
3.       What would I do to stop cancer?
4.       Do I know the cure for cancer?
5.       Do a lot of unhealthy foods give you cancer?
6.       Did any members of my family get cancer?
7.       Do I like to study cancer?
8.       Do I study just cancer?
9.       Does a cell get destroyed from cancer?
10.   How many kinds of cancer are there?
11.   Will a sickness go away if you take care of it by yourself?
12.   What have I researched in the past and what am I researching now?
13.   Is it hard work to be a scientist?
14.   Do I have any helpers in the lab?
15.   How did I become a researcher?
16.   What does a research biologist do?
17.   Do I have my own cool lab?
18.   Is it fun to be a scientist?
19.   How come I am not writing a book about science, and have I written science
       books or regular books?
20.   Is Norway a hot place to live?
21.   How is it to live in Norway?
22.   How are the fjords in Norway?
23.   Have I ever studied the human heart?
24.   Do all rabbits eat grass only?
25.   Is it ok to eat the bananas that have brown dots on them and that the fruit flies fly around?
26.   Do I make potions?

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